IN THE drawing room of his Scottish mansion, Lord Dacre gazed out of the full-length windows as the estate workers trooped wearily home from that afternoon’s badger hunt. A nervous servant knocked on the door and then entered the room, bearing a telephone on a silver tray.
“Excuse me, My Lord, but there is a man from London who says he needs to speak to you urgently.”
Dacre put down his cup of cocoa, sighed, took the receiver and dismissed the minion with a waft of his tartan midge-swat.
“Yes?” he barked.
In the hallowed halls of Derry Street, the unfortunate newsroom executive who had drawn the short straw took a deep breath, thought of his loving wife and children at home in their six-bed detached with electric gates in Surbiton, and began the last conversation he might ever have as a national newspaper journalist.
“Sorry to disturb you on holiday, Sir, but things are getting a little hairy down here and we thought you ought to know. It seems that our entirely justified and factually accurate denunciation of the arch-Communist Ralph Miliband as an enemy of Britain hasn’t gone down too well with certain sectors of society. In fact, some people are very, very cross indeed.
“Alastair Campbell – remember, the chap who asked us for favours many, many times when it came to our coverage of Tony Blair – is causing an awful lot of fuss. There’s talk of an advertising boycott and a protest march. And it doesn’t help that that little shit Greig on the Sunday has gone and dropped an almighty bollock and Jonathan is having to pick up the pieces. Lady R is furious.
“And Twitter, oh Twitter. Every unfunny left-wing comedian, media commentator, political luvvie or two-bit hack is steaming into us. It’s a tidal wave of abuse. They’ve dug out all those old 1930s cuttings and there are pictures of Hitler and everything. It’s a national movement. What on earth shall we do?”
Lord Dacre leaned back in his Chippendale chair, glanced across to the meerkat-skinned blotter on his desk where his new, 12-month, million-pound contract lay, freshly-signed.
“Tell me,” he said to the quaking messenger. “What the fuck is Twitter? And why should I fucking care about it?”
And that, my friends, is the nub of the situation. The Daily Mail is one of the most successful newspapers in the world. In terms of identifying its potential market, and then ruthlessly pursuing that market, it has no peers. Its ginger-headed bastard step-brother, Mail Online, is raking in millions of pounds – or more probably dollars – with its daily diet of hypocritical smut. (Is it really true that some celebrities actually pay to appear in that Sidebar of Shame?)
A publishing juggernaut of this magnitude will not – and should not – be deflected by a few literate, media-savvy, self-righteous tossers. It is what it is. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it – millions of ordinary people still will. And don’t link to its website when you’re whining about the latest so-called outrage. Remember that the freedom of the press doesn’t just apply to those newspapers of which you approve.
(Incidentally, Mirror editor Lloyd Embley seemed very pleased with his pastiche spread mocking the Mail. Perhaps he ought to read up on the history of his own newspaper and its similarly unseemly dalliance with the Blackshirts.)
And as for those journalists who have happily been emailing Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and M&S asking them to boycott the Mail group in a move that could cost innocent colleagues their jobs further down the line? Your names have been taken, you treacherous bastards.
The Grey Cardigan has been in newspapers since the days of hot metal and expense accounts. After a lengthy career as chief sub on several regional newspapers, plus a multitude of shifts on the nationals, he was appointed editor of the Evening Beast in 2009 before being ignominiously 'rationalised' last year. He is currently collecting gas in jam jars in case the Russians cut us off. @thegreycardigan